Skip the boring parts

I got some awesome writing advice last week: skip the boring parts. I’ve been always trying to write in a mostly completely linear fashion. But so often I get stuck or bored, and end up starting a new story. I’ve known there were people out there who wrote their stories out of order, but that didn’t seem like a good idea to me; seemed like it would be too easy to create discontinuities if you end up changing your mind about plot details. But I missed the main advantage of skipping: staying interested and excited in your own work. After all, when I think about writing a story, my mind jumps to the climactic arguments or the more interesting decisions the characters make. Makes more sense to write those scenes first and get them out of your head while they still excite you, and then building up to them can be easier and more interesting. You can edit them later if you need to. And it’s not like you have to skip huge important chunks. (If there are huge important chunks that have no interesting parts worth writing, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the story anyway?) Just skipping a couple introductory paragraphs can be enough to get the mind interested.

So a few days ago I finally finished another short story rough draft called The Final Dream of Samuel Shadows, and skipping around helped a lot. I’m looking forward to trying it with some of my other partly-written short stories, and eventually my novel, which I hope I can start in a month or two, whenever I can finish the plotting and planning of it…

Oh, and if you don’t mind some blatant self-promotion, I also got a little mention for my first published short story on this blog post reviewing December 2010 DSF stories… ego stroke…

A new moon in the sky marks the coming of a new Wizard King in “Maker of the Twenty-First Moon” by Sean Patrick Hannifin (debut 12/15). The wizard kings of the past were all tyrants. Jonlen and Slip have suspected Torkwill of wanting to be the next. A legend speaks of a wizard king’s only moment of vulnerability, on the night they make a moon.

“Maker” is a story with two sides. Torkwill wants to make the world a better place and shares the event with his son. Jonlen and Slip wish to take no chances, breaking into the wizard’s home to drag him into the forest. They refuse to heed the wizard’s warnings, Jonlen sure they are nothing but a bluff. He wants to make sure history is not repeated, even if he is the catalyst for past mistakes.

This story is rather good. It had an outcome I predicted but it was never obvious. Torkwill is convincing as a man trying to save his own life with Jonlen’s perspective. Not too bad.

Christmas, Animation Mentor, and whatever


We’re a week away from Christmas! I’ve got almost all my shopping done, I just need to buy one more thing… then I just need to wrap them, put them under the tree, start the fire when my parents aren’t looking because the gas costs money, sit on the floor and look at them and think happy thoughts.

Have you noticed in all those TV specials in which characters talk about the “true meaning of Christmas” they never actually say what it is?

I watched the Christmas classic A Christmas Story earlier this week, one of the great films of our time. No holiday is complete without at least one viewing. Now I just need to watch A Muppets Christmas Carol, not only the last best Muppet film, but also the best film version of the Christmas Carol story there is. Right? Yes? Indeed? They need to put it on blu-ray!

Animation Mentor

I have finished my second semester at Animation Mentor! Though it was quite a bit of work, the term really flew by. I’m getting better with my time management, I didn’t feel as overwhelmed as I did last semester, but I hope I can continue to improve next semester. We get a two week break for Christmas (though I’m still working at my job, so it’s not like I’m on vacation or anything), and then we’ll go through semesters 3 and 4 in a long continuous 24-week no-breaks stretch! It will be intense! I’m exhausted just thinking about it! But I still get excited imagining being able to work as an animator full-time… by this time next year I’ll be done, and we’ll see what happens with my life then…

I’ll post my second semester reel soon…

Anyway, I do think I’ve made some good progress this semester, and I definitely learned a lot. I look forward to more!

Got published!

Beceause my writing be so well, I was got profsionally published! The words flowed so passionately!

I’ve been blathering about it way too much, so I won’t say much now, but my short story appeared in Daily Science Fiction earlier this week! ‘Twas a rousing success. Cake was baked and eaten, wine was (and caused me to be) drunk, and angels sang glorious hymns.

(It was emailed to subscribers earlier this week. If you didn’t subscribe, DSF will have the story on their site on December 22nd, I believe.)

And I got a profile page on the ISFDB… woohoo!

On Thursday morning it started snowing, so I went to work for about 20 minutes before we closed. It’s wonderful to still have snow days in your mid-twenties. So I spent some time writing a new short story. Not sure what it’ll be called yet, but it’s about a sword that shows its holder the image of an evil person, then guarantees the holder invincibility as they slay that person. Isn’t that great? Yes, it is.

Short story and animation and screenplay, oh my

11 days until Christmas!

Just a couple updates on my life:

1. Be sure you’re signed up to get some Daily Science Fiction! Even if only for a day. My story, Maker of the Twenty-first Moon, will appear tomorrow, December the 15th, making it my fictional debut. You don’t want to miss this historic occasion. I plan on baking a cake tonight to celebrate. Might seem arrogant, but all excuses are valid for cake.

2. The second semester of Animation Mentor is just about over! I’ll post my second semester reel later this week. The semester really flew by. While I think I definitely improved this semester, I know there are plenty of areas I definitely need to keep working on. This semester was quite challenging, but overall, I’m still very happy with Animation Mentor, and I’m looking forward to the third semester, starting next month.

3. I got this email in regards to one of my screenplay query letters (for The Melody Box):

Hi Sean,

Thanks for your intriguing query.

I’ve attached my bio/producing credits and can be reached in New York City at: [censored].

Let’s talk first.



At first, this got me all excited. I forgot the first rule of the artist’s creed: don’t get excited. After Googling the producer’s name a bit more, I found that he ran a script consulting service, and I’m sure that’s what he wanted to try to sell me on. Ugh! No thanks.

That said, I have been fortunate enough to get a few actual genuine requests for the screenplay, woohoo!

I guess that’s all I have for today…

Remember to remember the 15th of December

Please excuse the blatant self-promotional nature of this post, but December 15, 2010 looks like it may become quite historic. According to SF Signal, it is the day I will have some of my fiction professionally published for the first time. (And, considering how undedicated I am to the craft, perhaps the last…?)

You can subscribe to Daily Science Fiction by email for free.

You’ll also see that a story by Eric James Stone is scheduled for the day before mine. If you recall my first post about Maker of the Twenty-first Moon, I mentioned that I got the idea for it (or at least a part of it) while reading one of his previous short stories, Taint of Treason. So it’s a fun coincidence that my story should come right after one of his.

Anyway, subscribe to DSF, mark your calendars, and prepare for much celebration… I think I’ll bake a cake that week… maybe write some music for it…

Sold my first short story!

This week, I made my first fiction sale! I sold my short fantasy story Maker of the Twenty-first Moon to Daily Science Fiction. They are a new market, so they’re not quite well-established yet, but they pay pro-rates (currently they pay 8 cents a word; pro is 5 cents and up, so 8 cents is quite good), and, from the few author names they are currently listing on their site, it looks like my story will be in good company! So I’m obviously pretty excited!

Unfortunately it will probably be a good long while until I ever write (or sell) more, as just about all my energy is currently focused on studying animation. But whenever I do write some more, I think this sale will affect me in two ways:

1) I’ll have more self-confidence. I’ll say to myself: “You sold a story before, you have it in you to do it again!”

2) I’ll have less self-confidence. I’ll say to myself: “Is this work good enough? Is it as good, if not better, than that story you already sold?”

Maybe those two effects will cancel each other out. And it probably shouldn’t affect me that much anyway, since in the grand scheme of the world, this sale isn’t of particularly significant historic importance. But I suppose one’s first ever sale will naturally go to the head just a bit.


Wrote a new short story

I just finished reading Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show (v. 1) — a collection of short stories from his online magazine.  I haven’t read that many short story anthologies, but of the ones I have read, this is definitely one of the best.  Plenty of really awesome sci-fi and fantasy short stories in here.  I really enjoyed all the stories, but the ones I especially thought were awesome were Audience by Ty Franck, The Box of Beautiful Things by Brian Dolton, and Taint of Treason by Eric James Stone.  And, being an Ender fan, all of the Ender universe stories by Orson Scott Card were great.

While reading Taint of Treason, I got a sudden idea for a short story myself, and quickly wrote it while it was fresh in my mind.  It’s only about 1,900 words; I think that’s that shortest short story I’ve ever written (not that I’ve written very many).  It’s called Maker of the Twenty-first Moon and is about a man who sets out to kill a wizard before he takes over the world.  Doesn’t that sound great?

I guess that’s really all I wanted to say today.